Is it possible, that in globally interconnected economy, the U.S. can stand alone? It certainly seems that the answer to that question is currently "yes" as financial markets hit "new all-time" highs and economic data has rebounded in the second quarter following a sharp Q1 decline. However, as is always the case, the issue of sustainability is most critical.
Having singularly failed to reform or restructure their dilapidated economies, many governments throughout the West have left it to their central banks to keep a now exhausted credit bubble to inflate further. Unprecedented monetary stimulus and the suppression of interest rates have now boxed both central bankers and many investors into a corner. Bond markets now have no value but could yet get even more delusional in terms of price and yield. Stock markets are looking increasingly irrational relative to the health of their underlying economies. The euro zone looks set to re-enter recession and now expects the ECB to unveil outright quantitative easing. If the West wishes to regain its economic vigour versus Asia, it would do well to remember what made it so culturally and economically exceptional in the first place. We seem to be close to the endgame.
Do you believe in miracles? Morgan Stanley's Adam Parker does, having given up on his sane bearish case long ago, he now predicts S&P to 3,000 because "if we get EPS growth of 6% per year from 2015-2020, that would drive S&P500 earnings to near $170; a 17x multiple would translate into a peak level for the S&P500 near 3000 under this scenario." So, just some simple math, eh? But he does add, "of course, no one can predict unforeseen shocks to the economy," but they will never happen, right?
Now that the financial oligarchs have had their way with the U.S. property market, to the point that average citizens can’t even afford to own a home (Zillow recently showed that 1 in 3 homes are unaffordable), it appears they have turned their sights overseas. What better market for bailed-out bankers to feast on than Spain, with its 50%+ youth unemployment rate and a continued depressed real estate market.
The hollowing out of corporate strengths to enable short-term profiteering by the handful at the top leads to systemic fragility. No shock is needed to bring down these fragile corporate structures: existing debt and the slightest tremor of global recession will be enough to topple the rickety facade.
The Central Bank policies of the last five years have damaged the capital markets to the point that the single most important item is no longer developments in the real world, but how Central banks will respond to said developments.
Capitalism gets into deep trouble when the price of financial assets becomes completely disconnected from economic reality and common sense. What ensues is rampant speculation in which financial gamblers careen from one hot money play to the next, leaving the financial system distorted and unstable - a proverbial train wreck waiting to happen. That’s where we are now.
Nowhere was the humor of central planning better exhibited than in Brazil was a clear outperformer with the BOVESPA (+10%) posting its best monthly performance since January 2012. Why? Because Brazil just entered a recession. Perhaps the reason why the joke that global thermonuclear war will send futures limit up is funny, is because it's true...
- Putin Suggests Statehood for Southeast Ukraine as Sanctions Loom (BBG)
- Ukraine accuses Russia of 'open aggression' as rebels advance (Reuters)
- Ruble Hits New Record Low Against Dollar (WSJ)
- Further Russia Sanctions Seen `Almost Inevitable' (BBG)
- Europe holds nerve as Russia-Ukraine warnings ratchet up (Reuters)
- China manufacturing slowdown ripples through region (Reuters)
- Brazil enters recession in election blow to Rousseff (Reuters)
- Disruptive Hong Kong protests loom after China rules out democracy (Reuters)
- Coal Miners See Signs of Recovery as Prices Stabilize (WSJ)
If last week's disappointing global economic data, that saw Brazil added to the list of countries returning to outright recession as Europe Hamletically debates whether to be or not to be in a triple-dip, was enough to push the S&P solidly above 2000, even if on a few hundreds ES contracts (traded almost exclusively between central banks), then the overnight massacre of global manufacturing PMIs - when not one but both Chinese PMIs missed spurring calls for "more easing" and pushing the SHCOMP up 0.83% to 2,235.5 - should see the S&P cross Goldman's revised year end target of 2050 (up from 1900) sometime by Thursday (on another few hundreds ES contracts).
France is its own worst enemy. It believes in old virtues and ideas from a time gone by. Dirigisme, the French version of socialist capitalism, has failed. It’s time for a 21st century revolution in France.
Confirming Europe's realization just how serious events are, and how far down the rabbit hole Europe's bureaucrats have gone, French President Francois Hollande, while stressing that a failure by Russia to reverse a flow of weapons and troops into eastern Ukraine would force the bloc to impose new economic measures i.e., nothing new, it is what he said just after that indicated a dramatic change in rhetoric: "Are we going to let the situation worsen, until it leads to war?" Hollande said at a news conference. "Because that's the risk today. There is no time to waste."
The sheep have been told their confidence is at a 7 year high by the propaganda peddlers working at the behest of the oligarchy. The sheep are also told that 10 million jobs have been added since the GOTUS played his first round back in 2009. The sheep have been told the record highs in the stock market prove that all is well. If the .1% are doing fantastic, some of the wealth must be trickling down. The sheep are told that QE and ZIRP were really to save Main Street and not the bonuses of Wall Street (at record highs by the way). The sheep are told to fear ISIS, Iran, Assad, Putin, and China. The sheep are told U.S. energy independence is just around the corner and to ignore the fact that gas prices have tripled since in the last ten years. The sheep are told drones will keep them safe and the DHS militarizing the police is just for their safety and security. The sheep are told guns are dangerous in their hands, but not in the hands of the government. The sheep passively eat their iGadgets and barely bleat while being led to the slaughter house.
Faith that the future will be better than the present is slipping, as despite President Obama's demands that Americans not be "cynics," a new report shows there is a major lack of confidence that the next generation will have it better than the last one. As WSJ reports, most strikingly, only 16% of respondents agree that job and career opportunities will be better for the next generation than for their own – a drop from the 56% who were optimistic about this measure in 1999 and down even from the 40% who agreed in November 2009, well into the recession.
What is hard to measure is often hard to manage. Employers using new technologies need to base hiring decisions not just on education, but also on the non-cognitive skills that allow some people to excel at learning on the job; they need to design pay structures to retain workers who do learn, yet not to encumber employee mobility and knowledge sharing, which are often key to informal learning; and they need to design business models that enable workers to learn effectively on the job (see this example). Policy makers also need to think differently about skills, encouraging, for example, industry certification programs for new skills and partnerships between community colleges and local employers. Although it is difficult for workers and employers to develop these new skills, this difficulty creates opportunity. Those workers who acquire the latest skills earn good pay; those employers who hire the right workers and train them well can realize the competitive advantages that come with new technologies.